Test facilities

Measuring from a few centimeters to over 15 meters, structures and their components are tested by the CSTB at a test facility in Marne-la-Vallée. The facility characterizes the mechanical performance when the structure or component is subjected to service loads and exceptional events (for example, earthquakes). Offering quick response times, the CSTB conducts standardized and customized tests for public authorities and construction and civil engineering stakeholders. These activities are performed in accordance with French (COFRAC 1-030, scope available on www.cofrac.fr) and U.S. (International Accreditation Service) accreditation bodies.

Mechanical test facility for structures and their components

To ensure the safety of buildings and other infrastructure, the CSTB mechanical test facility has three laboratories devoted to structures, materials and fasteners. It performs compression, bending, shear and tensile tests as part of its research, consulting, assessment and certification services, in accordance with standard and customized protocols. Real-world experimentation can be complemented with advanced digital simulation to optimize testing programs and analyze results in greater detail.

Analyzing structures

To characterize and improve mechanical behavior, the laboratory tests innovative structures and their components (floors, ceilings, walls, partition walls, beams, joists, posts), whether or not structural and regardless of the material (concrete, steel, clay, terracotta, wood, plaster, etc.).

To conduct mechanical tests, the two CSTB testing slabs are equipped with a set of more than 20 hydraulic cylinders of 5 to 450 metric tons, operated with about a dozen control lines.
Measurements are performed using standard instrumentation (displacement, force, pressure and temperature), complemented with a stereo image analysis system. During testing, the image analysis system determines the displacement and deformation fields of the elements in three directions.

In addition, the CSTB can analyze the seismic behavior of cladding, masonry and wall partitions in different configurations. It has a special test bench for dynamic tests (up to 1.6 g of acceleration).

Assessing materials

The CSTB analyzes materials (concrete, mortar, plaster, rendering, terracotta, natural stone) and small construction elements (blocks, bricks, plates). It consists of the following:• A set of five presses with capacities of 10 to 500 metric tons and heights up to 2.2 meters for mechanical characterization of building materials and elements;

  • A set of five presses with capacities of 10 to 500 metric tons and heights up to 2.2 meters for mechanical characterization of building materials and elements;
  • Three electric furnaces for testing up to 800°C to analyze materials at high temperatures (examples: concrete, resin joints);
  • A unique measurement facility for internal pressure in concrete to analyze the physical mechanisms of concrete exposed to fire.

Note: the CSTB has extensive experience with Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC), a material used in major structures (for example, stadiums and museums).

Testing fasteners

This CSTB laboratory performs tests on all kinds of joints (plastic, metal or chemical anchors, concrete screws and anchor rails) anchored in different supports (concrete, plaster board, masonry, etc.), with low to high capacities (a few kilos to 60 metric tons). A set of eight hydraulic cylinders of 5 to 60 metric tons, operated by eight control lines, makes static and dynamic testing possible at room or extreme temperature. These activities are accredited by French (COFRAC) and U.S. (IAS) accreditation bodies.

For high-quality services with quick response times

The CSTB mechanical test facility has a working environment that meets the requirements of stakeholders under optimal conditions. It consists of the following:

  • Climatic chamber and enclosures to ensure storage of products under controlled conditions;
  • Concrete mixing plant to manufacture test concrete internally and create test specimens of any size by completely controlling concrete composition;
  • Prefabrication workshop for assembly tasks, formwork and pouring of test specimens;
  • Production shop in which lathe operators, milling machinists, metallurgists, carpenters and electricians adapt existing material to the requirements of stakeholders;
  • Waste recycling department (contaminated concrete) that works with a specialized subcontractor.